You may be leaking precious time and energy without even realizing if you don’t ask few important productivity questions. Here they are:
Do you forget stuff in few weeks even if you study it diligently?
I know the answer. Almost everyone faces this forgetfulness.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we can retain what we study (wider connotation than just academics) for long?
Yes, it would be… and it is possible through spaced repetition.
If you’re a working professional who wants to rise to the top echelons of the corporate world, you would’ve admired many corporate leaders and founder CEOs of Fortune-500 companies.
If you’re a student who wants to crack the toughest exams out there, you would’ve marveled the effortless ease with which the brightest consistently finish in top 0.1 percentile.
If you’re a wannabe tennis player, you would be in awe of the games of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
“Their brain, their body is wired differently.”
“They’ve natural talent.”
“They’ve innate ability.”
These thoughts cross your mind, and you convince yourself to live a ‘normal’ life because you can’t change your wiring, because you can’t create talent out of nowhere, and because blessings are divine.
What if I tell you that these things matter much, much less – if at all they do – than you think? (As we’ll learn later in the post, your neural wiring and re-wiring, the foundation of any skill, depends only on your experiences. Not on any natural gift.) What if I tell you that there is a path accessible to everyone that can take you too to the dizzying levels of some of these greats?
It’s an ultra-competitive world. In academic tests at national/ international level, if you don’t finish in top few percentiles, sometimes under 1%, you’re unlikely to achieve your goal of getting admission to your dream college or that coveted fellowship.
In pursuit of such tough goals, diligent students go all out to get an edge on any front – study material, tutors, diet, energy boosters, and so on.
And even Physical Exercise (PE)!
You read it right. Physical exercise. Physical exercise of a certain kind, though. And it’ll help you even if you’ve a modest goal of just improving in your most challenging subjects.
More than 90 percent of American High School students and nearly 70 percent of college students are chronically sleep deprived, resulting in academic and health consequences.
If you’re like most, then you too are getting far less sleep than recommended for a balanced life.
National Sleep Foundation put together a high-powered panel of 18 scientists and researchers from reputed medical associations in the U.S. to study our daily sleep requirement. The panel gleaned through more than 300 studies, and came up with following recommendations:
Have you switched to Facebook or checked the score of your favourite sports just before starting an important, though unpleasant, assignment from your school?
Have you stared at the blank screen of your laptop for long and then moved to something else when writing the first few paragraphs of the paper due next week?
Have you enjoyed planning and brainstorming sessions a lot, but pushed deadlines when it came to execution?
You take the seat in your favorite corner. Today you’re determined to knock off the work you’ve been procrastinating on for almost a week.
However, just before starting, you decide to check your inbox. You check, and you don’t find anything worth your attention. (That’s what is going to happen if you check too frequently.) Because it got done so quickly, your digital-thirst isn’t quenched. You decide to skim your Facebook feed as well. After all, you plan to be off internet for three hours immediately after this.
You’re on a slippery slope now. You like (thumbs up) few pictures, leave few comments, chuckle at a funny video, and then click on a click-bait BuzzFeed article, which lets you slip further to a YouTube video. And then few suggested videos from YouTube’s long list of seductive thumbnails and titles…
By now, you’re neck deep in entertainment and procrastination, ignoring what you set out to do.
Sunlight is better known for synthesis of vitamin D in our bodies and for improving our moods. But what is less appreciated is that it can also make us more productive.
If you study in sunlight (not direct exposure, though), you’ll be significantly more alert, less drowsy in the afternoon, thereby increasing your productivity. As a result, you’ll have a more effective study schedule and you’ll be able to study longer without getting tired.
You would’ve heard it all – eat every 2-3 hours, don’t have too much caffeine, keep hydrated, eat healthy, and so on.
But do you know that certain types of food, which also happen to be the most regularly consumed by students, can send your energy level soaring to the top of the rollercoaster, and in short time, to its lowest point. And this crash can deprive you of the much needed energy to focus on the task at hand, including studying, something you can prevent by a better choice of what you eat or drink.
Imagine, this happening during an important day, say the day you’re taking an important test or the day you really need to slog at high efficiency to pull off that last-minute submission.
Alejandro Lleras, Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in his acclaimed study, found that brief diversion from your task can dramatically improve your ability to focus on a task for prolonged periods.
Your experience, too, will tell you that when you study without break for long duration, say 90 minutes, you tend to lose focus, your mind starts wavering.
So, if you’ve been slogging hard for over an hour on your assignment or for exam, you may be working well below your potential. Wasting time, in other words.
Moreover, you also need to be intentional about what you should be doing during those study-breaks, otherwise they’ll be less effective.
In this post, I’ll first cover why study breaks make you more productive and, toward the end, what are some good and some bad study-break ideas.